A relatively lesser-known getaway in Darjeeling district, Tabakoshi is about 5km away from Mirik. Nestled in the little hillside village, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Sunakhari Homestay is a quirky abode with homely cottages and a garden decked out with recycled plastic, bottles, tyres and more. If you're heading to the hills of Darjeeling, this has all the makings of an eclectic, relaxing staycation.
The office of the owner decorated with upcycled items
A home amidst tea gardens
The surrounding tea estates dominate the panoramic view from the homestay's cottages. When you're not indoors, there's a lot of natural beauty and cosy spots to make yourself at home at Sunakhari. Around the cottages, there's a small plot of farming land where they grow vegatables like spinach and tomatoes along with oranges, a Japanese-style pond with colourful fish, outdoor seating areas and a spot where you can light a bonfire and have a barbecue.
The homestay is surrounded by tea gardens that make for a great view from the cottages
If you're visiting with kids (or animal-loving adults), visit the residents of the menagerie. The animal residents of Sunkhari include rabbits, pigs, dogs and hens. In the winters, the gardens are in full bloom with colourful flowers and tucked away between the bloom are various kinds of herbs, shrubs, succulents and cacti.
The treehouse at Sunakhari
The resort has seven unique cottages and three tents. The cottages are made of stone, bamboo, wood and glass bottles. There is also one tree house that is in great demand. The two stone houses are constructed from rocks while wooden planks make up the facade of the wooden cottages. There is also one bamboo cottage and one glass house, whose facade is made with glass bottles.
The house with the glass bottle facade
All the cottages are well appointed and the tents are set up on elevated ground and give a view of the tea gardens, perfect for an early morning cuppa. All through the property there are hammocks tied to the pine trees that add to the camping experience and are perfect for when you want to stay out watching the stars or catch an afternoon snooze.
The beauty of upcycling
Sunakhari's creative decor is also a part of its green effort, with a lot of the amenities outdoors being upcycled. The garden furniture is made with recycled things — a coffee table made with beer bottles, tyres upcycled to small stools and stepping stones in the garden. Even the paths in the garden are bordered with glass bottles in place of common bricks.
(L-R) The outdoor seating arrangement made with tyres and beer bottles, stepping stones with tyres, beer bottles make a paved path
Among the more quirky decor details in the garden is an eye-catching 'wall' of empty alcohol bottles left behind by guests. A shed nearby has more rare items on display — old telephones, clocks, hats, pictures, tea cups, tea pots etc. hanging from the roof or displayed on wooden shelves, turning the place into a fun art installation.
The wall of bottles
The mind behind the decorations is that of owner Prashant Rai. He has been collecting currencies, hats, dead tree barks and other big and small interesting things and using them to decorate the homestay. Rai says, “Each and every thing you see here has little stories. There’s a leather water pot hanging here that’s from when I visited Rajasthan. Every item is connected with my life. These make for great conversation starters with my guests. They love it!”
Comfort food for the win
The kitchen is an extension of Sunakhari's eco-friendly policy with food cooked on earthen chulhas and dishes made using as much produce from the homestay's farm as possible. The food is served on metal plates or dishes with a copper goblet for water.
The traditional kitchen with clay 'chulhas' and (right) the traditional brass utensils for serving food
The lunch menu comprises simple, delicious home-cooked comfort food like rice, dal, a sabji, often with a side of a spinach dish with the spinach grown in the farm and a chicken or egg preparation. Dinners are a choice between Indian and Chinese, and the chowmein and chilli chicken is highly recommended. You can also request a bonfire and barbecue in the evening and enjoy some succulent, flavourful grilled chicken. Pork dishes are available on request.
The stay will keep you engaged with something interesting to explore every moment.
- Sunakhari Homestay in Tabakoshi is located 60 km away from Bagdogra airport and about 63 km from New Jalpaiguri railway station.
- The homestay has well appointed en-suite cottages. The tents do not have en-suite facilities but a separate concrete bathroom and toilet.
- Connectivity is good with good phone and internet service and parking is available on the premises.
- The tariff for the cottages is Rs 1,600 per person, including food from a set menu. The bonfire, barbecue and any food ordered outside the set menu is chargeable.
- Tabakoshi is a good destination for almost all seasons barring monsoons, since there are chances of landslides and road closures.
- There are some great spots to visit nearby including Gopaldhara Tea Estate, Mirik Lake, Bokar Monastery.